Dancer reign begins with two wins as Irish youth sides endure mixed weekend

Sean Dancer’s reign as Ireland coach began in confident style as the Green Army recorded back-to-back wins over Scotland at Stormont with two clean sheets to boot.

Dancer’s regime began in earnest on Saturday evening with a 2-0 success with Deirdre Duke and Lizzie Colvin on the mark in the second half.

Laura Foley plays a pass. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Nikki Evans and Yvonne O’Byrne returned to the line-up having missed the FIH Series Finals in Banbridge last month.

On Sunday, Serena Barr came into the line-up, joining her twin sister Bethany, while Emma Buckley started between the posts and again they ran out winners 1-0.

In a game where Gillian Pinder played her 150th game for Ireland, Duke was again on the mark with six minutes to go and they will look to close out the series in strong fashion on Tuesday at the same venue.

In Valencia, meanwhile, the Irish Under-21 women’s side began their EuroHockey Junior Championship campaign in frustrating fashion as a 48th minute sucker-punch saw Russia win 1-0.

They had all the chances in the first half with Laura Foley denied off the line, Michelle Carey going close twice while the post denied Ellen Curran from a penalty corner move.

But the Russians took one of their rare chances in the closing quarter to win the day. It puts Ireland on the back foot in a five-team group with tournament favourites the Netherlands next on the agenda.

The men’s Under-21s fare better as Conor Empey, Callum Robson and Matthew Crookshanks all scored in the first half to beat Belarus 3-1 in Litice.

The Czech Republic hosts are their next opponents on Tuesday afternoon

In Eindhoven, there were mixed results for the Irish underage sides on Sunday with the Under-16 boys producing the strongest performance, a 5-1 success against Poland with Eddie Rowe netting twice.

The Under-18 boys (0-4) and girls (0-2) lost to England while the Under-16 girls were defeated 3-1 by the Netherlands’ Under-15s. The latter took the lead with Sophie Dix volleying home from a high, looping ball.

Weekend results

Men

EuroHockey Junior Championships, Pool A: Ireland 3 (C Empey, C Robson, M Crookshanks) Belarus 1 (V Bandarchuk)

Under-18 Six Nations: Ireland 0 England 4

Under-16 Six Nations: Ireland 5 (E Rowe 2, M Anderson, M Collins, R Treacy) Poland 1

Women

Senior internationals

Saturday: Ireland 2 (D Duke, L Colvin) Scotland 0

Sunday: Ireland 1 (D Duke) Scotland 0

EuroHockey Junior Championships, Pool A: Ireland 0 Russia 1 (D Yushkova)

Under-18 Six Nations: Ireland 0 England 2

Under-16 Six Nations: Ireland 1 (S Dix) Netherlands Under-15s 3

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